State track finalists battle each other and the elements

Not only did Cameron Stanton, Haley Lake and Alyvia Apparu compete against their foes at the New York State high school track and field championships last weekend, there was another opponent to overcome: the weather.

Severe conditions threw the schedule out the window at Cicero-North Syracuse High School Friday and Saturday. Thunderstorms and incessant rain made conditions slippery on the track.

Despite that, Stanton finished fourth among Division II high jumpers for the second year in a row, and took an impressive eighth place among all competitors, which includes large and private schools. Stanton, who will graduate from Greenport High School later this month, made sure she finished her high school career in style. After acquitting herself well in Friday’s Division II competition, her four jumps in the overall event were quite consistent on Saturday. She leaped 17 feet, 9 inches,, 17’8 and 17’6.75.

There certainly was no senioritis on her part.

“She has never gotten it,” Southold/Greenport girls track head coach Tim McArdle said. “She is, as they would say, a consummate pro. She has not let those outside factors affect her ability by any means. She is a driven young woman who definitely sees the goal and understands the goal … It says a lot about her character.”

And, of course, her skill, which was difficult to showcase in less than perfect conditions.

“It was good and kind of frustrating at the same time,” she said.

Due to several storms, Stanton’s start time on Friday was pushed back from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

“It was slippery. The pit was soaked,” she said. “The runway was pretty slippery, but they were blowing it off with blowers. It was only drizzling when I was jumping. It wasn’t like full on raining, which was nice, but it was really bad earlier in the day. Saturday, conditions were pretty nice.”

Many serious track athletes follow a regime and want to stay focused as much as possible. That includes Stanton, who said that she decided to eat a later breakfast.

“Oh, that’ll carry me through,” she said.

Or so she thought. Stanton was forced to eat again, for some energy.

“It does throw off the entire thing, having it delayed for 5 1/2 hours,” said Stanton, who admitted she was tired after a long afternoon. “I got through it and came out with a pretty good result.”

Stanton, who inked her official signing with Tufts University this week, entered the competition ranked eighth among Division II jumpers and 22nd overall, so the results beat expectations. 

“She definitely made some progress there,” McArdle said.

Senior Madison Williams of Pine Bush captured the overall title with a leap of 19’8.

Lake also had to battle through the elements. Besides the wet and slick ground, the Mattituck junior worked hard to keep her equipment dry in the pole vault.

“It was definitely hard due to the rain,” she said. “I didn’t jump as well as I really wanted to. I tried to make the best of the situation. We had towels. We tried throwing the pole back in the bag. We tried everything.”

Lake’s best vault cleared eight feet even, well off her personal best of 9’6. Senior Lily Beattie of Warwick Valley (Section 1) won the event at 12’9.

Despite getting soaked, Lake managed to soak in the experience, especially listening to some seniors.

“I definitely realized that for some of them, it’s their last time jumping ever, or in high school,” she said, adding their advice was “just to enjoy it, take it in and not take it for granted. If I have a bad day, just take it in.”

Lake said that despite the weather, “the whole atmosphere itself was really fun. And getting to hang out with my teammate who was there and meeting new girls was definitely one of the highlights.”

That teammate, Apparu, a Mattituck senior, finished 22nd in the 100-meter dash at 13.11 seconds, off her personal best of 12.50. Port Jefferson sophomore Alexa Jacobs captured the title in 12.30.